The government is to invest £85m a year in enhancing BBC services around the world including in Russia, North Korea, the Middle East and Africa. Tony Hall, the Director General of the BBC pictured below, said he welcomed the "fantastic news". He added: "This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government. The World Service is one of the UK's most important cultural exports and one of our best sources of global influence. We can now further build on that. The funding will also help speed us on to our target of reaching half a billion people globally."
The money will be used to enhance further TV services in countries in Africa, provide more regionalised content to better serve audiences to the BBC Arabic Service and implement dedicated TV output for Somalia and a fully digital service for Thailand. As well as this, the additional funding will be used to provide new radio services for audiences in North Korea and radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea. According to Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom Index, North Korea and Eritrea are the two worst performing countries in the world when ranked on a number of criteria including media independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
The announcement in the Government's Strategic Defence Review on Monday makes it very clear what this money is all about - soft power. Britain's reputation, values and influence around the World. In 2010, the coalition government decided the £253 million spent on the World Service was coming to an end. The BBC would have to absorb the cost out of the licence fee. Five years later, Chancellor George Osborne has, partially, reversed that cut in return for the BBC expanding services in to North Korea, Russian speaking areas, the Middle East and Africa. And there is also another factor which may have influenced this decision to promote Britain abroad - the rapid growth of rival international news services from Russia, China and the Middle East.
The BBC's radio services around the world are in decline - the new cash will help the switch towards more TV, mobile and online services as the BBC seeks to grow its global reach from around 300 million at the moment to a target of 500 million. The list of services to be expanded using the funding include enhanced TV services for Africa, new radio services for audiences in North Korea and radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea. The BBC will also expand TV, radio and digital offerings in Somalia, India, Nigeria and Thailand. A TV service will be added to the existing service for Somalia. For Nigeria, a digital service will be started in Pidgin and Yoruba. "Pidgin is a popular language among young people in Nigeria and across West Africa," said Liliane Landor, Controller of Languages at the World Service. It will also help boost digital and TV services for Russian speakers, both in Russia and the surrounding communities.
It was Acol or American Standard that were the popular languages among the 12 full Tables who attended our regular Club Night, yesterday evening. You can read all about it in the Report by clicking on the "Competitions" tab in the Menu to the left of this box. Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the "Latest result" button at the top right of this page.